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JERUSALEM ISSUE BRIEF

Vol. 6, No. 6     7 August 2006


The U.S.-French Draft UN Resolution on Lebanon:
Strengths and Weaknesses

Dore Gold


  • The U.S.-French draft resolution calls for a "full cessation of hostilities" by the warring parties. It demands the "immediate" halt by Hizballah of all attacks. Regarding Israel, there is also a demand for the "immediate" cessation of military operations; however, Israel is only expected to halt "offensive military operations." Not only is Hizballah treated more harshly, but implicitly Israel may continue to conduct "defensive military operations."

  • The draft resolution only partially addresses some of Israel's main concerns in the present conflict. Israel's abducted soldiers appear and their release is not linked to the question of Lebanese prisoners in Israel. However, the abducted soldiers are relegated to the preambular language of the draft resolution, rather than appearing in the operative language that specifies what the parties have to do.

  • Israel's concern with rocket proliferation in Lebanon is also addressed in the long-term proposals in the draft resolution through "an international embargo on the sale or supply of arms." This could justify a partial U.S. or Western naval blockade to look for contraband weapons similar to what the U.S. Navy maintained in the Persian Gulf in the 1990s against Iraq. There is no reference in the draft resolution to how remaining stocks of Hizballah missiles will be addressed.

  • The U.S.-French draft resolution envisions the adoption of a further resolution in the future, "under Chapter VII," for the deployment of a UN-mandated multi-national force. But Chapter VII is a two-edged sword. In the future, if Israel is dissatisfied with the performance of the multi-national force and feels it must conduct limited operations in Lebanese territory (from over-flight to destroying new rocket deployments), under such circumstances Israel could be charged with violating a Chapter VII resolution. Because of the severe repercussions of such a violation, the Arab bloc, with some European support, will likely call for sanctions against Israel.

  • The Shebaa Farms were captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War along with the rest of the Golan Heights; their future disposition, it has been assumed, is part of the Israeli-Syrian territorial dispute. Lebanon claimed that in 1951, Syria transferred the Shebaa Farms to Lebanon. However, no such agreement was ever deposited at the UN and Lebanese Army maps from 1961 and 1966 shows the Shebaa Farms to be inside Syria. Hizballah's claim to the Shebaa Farms has no basis in either UN resolutions or in past diplomatic documentation. Yet, by granting that the Shebaa Farms issue is a genuine dispute, the draft resolution rewards Hizballah by recognizing one of its main claims over the last six years.



On August 5, 2006, U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton announced that he had reached an agreed text with his French counterpart over a draft resolution for a cease-fire in Lebanon. In the UN system, a resolution being proposed to the Security Council is called a "draft resolution" until it is adopted; only then does it become a numbered resolution. The draft resolution now being considered conceives a multi-stage process for stabilizing Lebanon: first, a cessation of hostilities with no specific call for an Israeli withdrawal. Second, a further resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter for a UN-mandated force (Operative Paragraph 10). Third, a long-term solution for Lebanon based on nine separate principles.

At this point, the draft resolution only partially addresses some of Israel's main concerns in the present conflict. Israel's abducted soldiers appear and their release is not linked to the question of Lebanese prisoners in Israel. However, the abducted soldiers are relegated to the preambular language of the draft resolution that discusses general principles, rather than appearing in the operative language that specifies what the parties have to do. In future drafts, Israel's abducted soldiers should appear in the operative language of the resolution.

Israel's concern with rocket proliferation in Lebanon is also addressed in the long-term proposals in the draft resolution through "an international embargo on the sale or supply of arms." This could justify a partial U.S. or Western naval blockade to look for contraband weapons similar to what the U.S. Navy maintained in the Persian Gulf in the 1990s against Iraq. But there is no reference in the draft resolution to how remaining stocks of Hizballah missiles will be addressed.1 A follow-up resolution should specify how the Hizballah missile forces will be dismantled, allowing for Israel to contribute to the discussions over the monitoring effort, as was the case in the 1996 Monitoring Group. A follow-up resolution should also detail how peacekeeping forces will be deployed along the Syrian-Lebanese border to prevent the resupply of Hizballah after the cease-fire goes into effect. The following analysis will focus on the other main features of the resolution.


The Cease-Fire Component

The U.S.-French draft resolution calls for a "full cessation of hostilities" by the warring parties. It demands the "immediate" halt by Hizballah of all attacks. Regarding Israel, there is also a demand for the "immediate" cessation of military operations; however, Israel is only expected to halt "offensive military operations." Not only is Hizballah treated more harshly, but implicitly Israel may continue to conduct "defensive military operations."

While this distinction is extremely important, it is highly subjective. The determination of whether an Israeli action after the cease-fire is defensive or offensive will still be within the mandate of UNIFIL, which, according to Operative Paragraph 11 of the draft resolution, is charged to "monitor its implementation."

Most Israeli officials have concluded that UNIFIL was a failure during the period of its deployment because, among other reasons, it failed to report Hizballah violations of past cease-fire agreements. Moreover, given the accusations hurled by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at Israel for intentionally firing on a UNIFIL post, it is doubtful that his representatives can play a useful role in judging future violations of the UN-sponsored cease-fire. To strengthen future drafts of the resolution, reference should be made that nothing in the proposed resolution "shall preclude Israel or Lebanon from exercising its right of self-defense" (leaving out any Hizballah "right of defense"). It would also be prudent for Israel to secure bilateral U.S.-Israel understandings about Israel's right of self-defense after the cease-fire.

It should be noted that the draft resolution empowers Secretary-General Annan "to develop, in liaison with key international actors and the concerned parties, proposals" to implement UN resolutions like UN Security Council Resolution 1559 that calls for the disarmament of Lebanese militias. In other words, the UN Secretariat is charged with handling the most critical issue affecting the future security of both Lebanon and Israel. This is like burying in a committee Resolution 1559 and the dismantling of Hizballah.

Still, the main advantage of the cease-fire component of the draft resolution is that it is not based on an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory at the outset, as Hizballah demanded. The long-term solution that the draft resolution stipulates, however, is that the security zone between the Israeli-Lebanese border (the blue line) and the Litani River will be free of all non-Lebanese personnel except for UN-mandated forces.


The Problematics of Chapter VII

Throughout Israel's many years as a UN member, all Israeli governments have resisted any effort to have resolutions with respect to the Arab-Israel conflict adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, for if a UN member state is charged with violating a Chapter VII resolution, the Security Council would have the power to impose sanctions or even use force against such a state. Only the most severe resolutions passed in the UN Security Council made explicit reference to Chapter VII, like all the resolutions against Saddam Hussein from 1990 through 2002.

Nonetheless, the U.S.-French draft resolution envisions the adoption of a further resolution in the future, "under Chapter VII," for the deployment of a UN-mandated multi-national force. The drafters of the draft resolution clearly felt that they needed the added authority of a Chapter VII resolution to provide a future international force with powers to undertake combat operations in southern Lebanon against Hizballah, and not just serve as observers like UNIFIL. It should be added that the Israeli government has sought the deployment of robust peacekeeping forces, modeled on NATO forces in Kosovo or elsewhere in the Balkens.

But Chapter VII is a two-edged sword. In the future, if Israel is dissatisfied with the performance of the multi-national force and feels it must conduct limited operations in Lebanese territory (from over-flight to destroying new rocket deployments), under such circumstances Israel could be charged with violating a Chapter VII resolution. Because of the severe repercussions of such a violation, the Arab bloc, with some European support, will likely call for sanctions against Israel. Thus, a Chapter VII reference can tie the hands of future Israeli self-defense operations by tying the hands of the Israel Defense Forces.


The Shebaa Farms

When Israel withdrew its forces unilaterally from Lebanon on March 20, 2000, Secretary-General Kofi Annan certified that by withdrawing to the "blue line," Israel had indeed left all Lebanese territory. His determination was enshrined by UN Security Council Resolution 1310.

Nonetheless, Hizballah argued that Israel was still retaining Lebanese territory, because it continued to hold the Shebaa Farms, which were in the Golan Heights. Lebanese officials backed Hizballah's claim. Historically, the Shebaa Farms were captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War along with the rest of the Golan Heights; their future disposition, it has been assumed, is part of the Israeli-Syrian territorial dispute. Lebanon claimed that in 1951, Syria transferred the Shebaa Farms to Lebanon. However, no such agreement was ever deposited at the UN and Lebanese Army maps from 1961 and 1966 shows the Shebaa Farms to be inside Syria.2

Thus, while Hizballah's claim, in the name of the Lebanese state, to the Shebaa Farms has no basis in either UN resolutions or in past diplomatic documentation, the U.S.-French draft resolution envisions a long-term security plan that includes: "delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including in the Shebaa Farms area." The status of the Shebaa Farms was certain, until the draft resolution: it was Syrian territory that Israel captured in a war of self-defense and hence was disputed territory in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242.

This is not just a legal issue, for the draft resolution clearly traces the current crisis in Lebanon to Hizballah's attack on Israel on July 12, 2006, describing the abduction of Israeli solders as one of the "causes" of the conflict. Yet, by granting that the Shebaa Farms issue is a genuine dispute, the draft resolution rewards Hizballah by recognizing one of its main claims over the last six years. Moreover, there is no internationally agreed understanding of how much territory is involved. One estimate of the size of the Shebaa Farms is that it covers as much as 25 square kilometers.3 The point is that this international discussion over the Shebaa Farms is being raised with regard to a geographically undefined quantity of territory, which could open up a bottomless pit of demands against the State of Israel.

The U.S.-French draft resolution is only a preliminary effort to bring the current conflict in Lebanon to an end. The Lebanese government has many reservations itself about the current efforts underway in the UN, but this should not stop Israelis from raising questions about the underlying assumptions of the draft resolution in preparation. For example, its language presupposes that there are two parties to the conflict - Israel and Hizballah - along with its Lebanese hosts. This neat symmetry is false, however. In reality, this war would be impossible without the active involvement and support of Syria and Iran, in particular. Hizballah will have no incentive to comply with any UN resolution if its Iranian patrons seek to undermine the Israeli-Lebanese border. If UN peacemaking efforts produce only undertakings by Israel and Lebanon, without actively constraining Iran, then the principal actor behind the current crisis will likely continue to destabilize the entire region and any cease-fire will not last long.

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Notes

1. Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, "An International Force: Advantages and Disadvantages," Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 6, No. 4, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs/Institute for Contemporary Affairs, July 25, 2006; http://www.jcpa.org/brief/brief006-4.htm
2. Frederic C. Hof, Beyond the Boundary: Lebanon, Israel, and the Challenge of Change (Washington: Middle East Insight, 2000), p. 18.
3. Ibid.

*     *     *

Dore Gold is the President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and served as Israel's ambassador to the UN from 1997 to 1999. He is the author of Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Washington: Regnery, 2003), and Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos (NY: Crown Forum, 2004).


Dore Gold, Publisher; Yaakov Amidror, ICA Program Director; Mark Ami-El, Managing Editor. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Registered Amuta), 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-5619281, Fax. 972-2-5619112, Email: jcpa@netvision.net.il. In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 USA, Tel. (410) 664-5222; Fax. (410) 664-1228. Website: www.jcpa.org. Copyright. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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